You are on page 1of 9

PRESSURE VARIATION IN FLOWING FLUIDS Basic Causes of Pressure Variation in a Flowing Fluid: In static fluid gravity causes pressure

to vary with elevation. In fluid flow in addition to the weight effect acceleration and viscous resistance are the basic causes of pressure variation. To accelerate a mass of fluid in a given direction, there must be a net force in the direction of acceleration. Therefore, the pressure must decrease in the direction of acceleration as shown in figure. For flow in a pipe F1 = p1 A1 F2 = p2 A2

A1, p1

p2, A2

Variation of pressure in a pipe

Since A1= A2, net pressure force on the fluid acts to the right, i.e, F1 > F2

P1 > P2

In addition to acceleration, pressure variation is needed to overcome the viscous resistance, which acts in opposition to the motion of the fluid. Pressure Variation due to Weight and Acceleration: Element shown in figure is being accelerated in the l direction. Applying Newtons second law in the l direction and using the system approach,

Fl = Ma l

pA ( p + p )A W sin = lAa l pA lA sin = lAa l


W = l A)

Pressure and weight forces acting on an accelerating fluid element. (a) Fluid element. (b)Trigonometric relation

dividing by lA
p sin = a l l (1)

Pressure is a function of both position and time. Taking the limit of p at a give time as l zero yields the partial derivative: l
limit p p = l 0 l t l

Taking the limit as l approaches zero at a give time yields Thus the limiting form of Eq. (1) when l approaches zero is or, taking as a constant,

sin =

limit z z = l 0 l l

p z = a l l l

( p + z ) = a l l

This is a Eulers equation for a fluid. When al = 0

p + z = C (for hydrostatic).

In other words, along a path of zero acceleration the pressure distribution must be hydrostatic. This assumes that the gravity and pressure forces are the only forces acting. That is, it is a non-viscous flow.

Examples of Pressure variation Resulting from Acceleration Uniform Acceleration of a Tank of Liquid: When open tank of liquid is accelerated to the right at a rate of ax, a net force must act on the liquid in the same direction; this is accomplished when the liquid redistributes itself in the tank as shown in figure by A'B'CD. Under this condition the hydrostatic force at the left end is greater than the hydrostatic force at the right, which is consistent with the requirement F = Ma. of
Along the liquid surface A'B' pressure is constant, p = patm. Consequently The acceleration along A'B' is given by al = ax cos . Hence, Eq. (2) reduces to

p =0 l

d (z ) = a x cos where the total derivative is used because the variables do not change with time. dl

= constant = g.
Therefore, but Thus or
a cos dz = x dl g

dz = sin dl
sin = a x cos g

tan =

ax g

Along a horizontal plane in the liquid, such as at the bottom of the tank, z is constant, then

p = a x x

which shows that the pressure must decrease in the direction of the acceleration.

The change in pressure is consistent with the change in depth of liquid because hydrostatic pressure variation prevails in the vertical direction, since there is no component of acceleration in that direction. Thus as the depth decreases in the direction of acceleration, the pressure along the bottom of the tank must also decrease.

Rotation of Tank of Liquid: Consider a cylindrical tank of liquid rotating at a constant rate , as shown in figure. Surface A'A' appears after a period of time when a steady state has been established.
Applying Eq. (2) in a radial direction,
2 d ( p + z ) = a r = V r dr

where the partial derivative has been dropped since the flow is steady and a function only of the radius r. Acceleration in the radial direction is negative (toward the centre of rotation). Since,

V = r

d ( p + z ) = r 2 dr p + z =

Integrating with respect to r gives

r 2 2

+ constant

Bernoulli Equation

If the flow is steady, incompressible, non-viscous, and also irrotational, Bernoulli equation can be derived from the Eulers equation p V2 V2 p + z + = Constant (In pressure units) +z+ = Constant (In head units) 2g 2 In most applications the Bernoulli equation is written between two points, 1 and 2, in the flow field as: V 12 V 12 p 2 V 22 p1 V 22 p1 + z1 + = p 2 + z 2 + (In pressure units) + z1 + = + z2 + (In head units) 2 2 2g 2g Note that the V in the Bernoulli equation is the speed of the fluid and not a velocity component. Bernoulli equation is a scalar equation. It can be used to predict the pressure distribution within the fluid or the pressure distribution on a body if the flow pattern about the body is known.
Application of the Bernoulli Equation Stagnation Tube: Writing Bernoulli equation between points 1 and 2 for the stagnation tube shown in figure (as z1 = z2) V 12 V2 = p2 + 2 p1 + 2 2 Velocity at point 2 is zero ( a stagnation point). 2 Thus, V12 = ( p 2 p1 )

By the equations of hydrostatics (there is no acceleration normal to the streamlines where the streamlines are straight and parallel), p1 = d and p2 = (l + d). 2 Therefore, V12 = { (l + d ) d }

V1 = 2 gl . which reduces to A very simple device such as curved tube can be used to measure the velocity of flow.

Pitot Tube: The Pitot tube is based on the same principle as the stagnation tube, but it is much more versatile than the stagnation tube. The Pitot tube has a pressure tap at the upstream end of the tube for sensing the stagnation pressure . There are also ports located several tube diameters downstream of the front end of the tube for sensing the static pressure in the fluid where the velocity is essentially the same as the approach velocity. Applying Bernoulli equation between points 1 and 2, shown in figure, and solving for V2 as V1 = 0.

p p V2 = 2 g 1 + z1 2 + z 2 Using V2 = V, the velocity of the stream and p + z =h, the piezometric head
V = 2 g (h1 h2 )
Flow velocity can be measured easily with the Pitot tube by connecting a pressure gage or manometer between taps that lead to points 1 and 2. A major advantage of the Pitot tube is that it can be used to measure velocity in a pressurized pipe; a simple stagnation tube is not convenient to use in such a situation. In gas-flow measurement, where a single differential pressure gage is connected across the taps

V= 2

, where p is the pressure difference across the taps.

Pressure Variation near Curved Boundaries

If flow passages are converging, such as is shown in figure (a), then irrotational flow will be approximated for low-viscosity fluids such as water or air. Hence the Bernoulli equation can be used to obtain the pressure variation between points in the flow field, including points adjacent to the boundaries. Writing Bernoulli equation between the reference point and any other point, V 02 p V 2 p0 +z+ = + z0 + Fig. (a). Flow net for transition (half-section). 2g 2g where p0, V0, and z0, are pressure, velocity, and elevation respectively, at the reference point; and p, V, and z, are pressure, velocity, and elevation at any other given point. By rearrangement, 2 2 V 02 V 2 V0 V p0 p + z or where h0 is the piezometric head at h h0 = + z0 = 2g 2g the reference point, and h is the piezometric head at a given point. For gases in which hydrostatic 2 2 p p0 V 0 V p p 0 = (V 02 V 2 ) effects are negligible or = 2g 2
V V p p0 =1 - or =1- By nondimensionalizing 2 2 V V V0 / 2 V0 / 2 g 0 0 A 1 V = 0 ), then the equations in terms of the flow passage are Because V (that is, A V0 A h h0 h h0
2 2

p p0 A A = 1- 0 or =1 - 0 2 2 V0 / 2 V0 / 2 g A A For two-dimensional flow, the streamline spacing is directly proportional to the flow area, that is 2 2 p p0 A0 n 0 h h0 n0 n0 = . Then, in terms of the streamline spacing or = 1- =1 - A n V02 / 2 g V02 / 2 n n where n is the distance between two adjacent streamlines measured along the line (probably curved) perpendicular to both streamlines as shown in figure (a). Since both sides of above equations are dimensionless, application of the equations is not a function of the density of the fluid or the absolute size of the passage that controls the flow. Consequently, test can be made on a small-scale structure (a model), and the results may be applied to a large-scale structure. This is the principle of model testing. The left side of either of equations is often called the pressure coefficient Cp. That is, hh p p0 or Cp = 2 0 Cp = V0 / 2 g V02 / 2 Fig. (b). Relative piezometric head It is the change in peizometric head (or pressure) between two points in the flow field relative to the velocity head (kinetic pressure) of the reference velocity. For the conduit of figure (a), the relative pressure (pressure coefficient) along the centreline and along the boundary at various points is plotted in the figure (b). Because there are greater variations of velocity near the boundary, the pressure variations are also greater along the boundary than they are along the centreline.

Pressure Distribution Around a Circular CylinderIdeal Fluid

If a fluid is nonviscous (an ideal fluid) and if the flow of such a fluid is initially incompressible and irrotational, then the flow will be irrotational throughout the entire flow field. Fluid cannot rotate because there is no shear stress (viscosity is zero) on the surface of the body. Then if the flow is also steady, the Bernoulli equation will apply. Consider the flow pattern about a circular cylinder shown in figure (a). Because the flow pattern is symmetrical with either the vertical or the horizontal axis through the centre of the cylinder, the pressure Fig (a) Irrotational flow past a cylinder distribution on the surface of the cylinder, obtained by application of the Bernoulli equation, is also symmetrical. In figure (b) the relative pressure Cp is plotted outward (negative) or inward (positive) from the surface of the cylinder, depending on the sign of the relative pressure and on a line normal to the surface of the cylinder. V0 and p0 are the velocity and pressure of the free stream far upstream or downstream of the body (points A and E). The points at the front and rear of the cylinder (points B and D) are points of stagnation (Cp = +1.0) and the minimum pressure (Cp = 3.0) occurs at the midsection (point C) where the velocity is Fig. (b) highest. A fluid particle first decelerates, which is consistent with the increase in pressure from A to B. Then as it passes from B to C, it is accelerated to its highest speed by the action of the pressure gradient; that is, the pressure decreases over the entire path from B to C. Next, as the particle travels from C to D, its momentum at C is sufficient to allow it to travel to D against the adverse pressure gradient (pressure increases in the direction of flow here). Finally, the particle accelerates to the free stream velocity in its passage from D to E.

In regions where boundaries turn away from the flow so as to cause the streamlines to diverge, the flow usually separates from the boundary and a recirculation pattern is generated in the region. This phenomenon is called separation, a typical case of which is shown schematically in figure (b). Also shown, in figure (a), is the pattern for ideal flow past a similar plate. In the region between the high-velocity flow outside the zone of separation and the low-velocity zone inside it (figure (b)), vortices are formed. A vortex is defined as the motion of a multitude of fluid particles around a common center. These vortices are often called eddies, which through viscous action are finally dissipated into heat. In rivers the larger eddies are often called whirlpools. These vortices or eddies lead to the phenomenon called turbulence. For the case of flow of water in rivers or wind in the atmosphere, the flow is almost always turbulent. The eddies that are initially developed are relatively large, but in the process of turbulent mixing, they break down into smaller and smaller eddies. Viscous resistance in the smallest eddies eventually dissipates virtually all of the kinetic energy that initially existed in the larger eddies. This process of vortex generation and decay is typical of all turbulent flows and is one of the most significant aspects of fluid mechanics. Research in this area will be especially challenging and rewarding for engineers and scientists for years to come.

The point of separation may be related to the shape and roughness of a body. Considering the flow of a real (viscous) fluid past a circular cylinder, as shown in figure. Because of the viscous resistance, a thin layer of fluid has its velocity reduced from that predicted by irrotational theory. In fact, the fluid particles directly adjacent to the surface have zero velocity (this no-slip condition at a boundary is characteristic Flow of a real fluid past a circular cylinder of all real fluids). The normal tendency is for the layer of reduced velocity (called the boundary layer) to grow in thickness in the direction of flow. However, because the main stream of fluid outside the boundary layer is accelerating in the same direction, the boundary layer remains quite thin up to approximately the midsection. Downstream of the midsection deceleration of the fluid next to the boundary is limited (in contrast with irrotational flow) because its velocity is already small (much smaller than for irrotational flow) because of the viscous resistance. Therefore, the fluid near the boundary can proceed only a very short distance against the adverse pressure gradient before stopping completely. Once the motion of the fluid next to the boundary ceases, this causes the main stream of flow to be diverted away, or to be separated from the boundary. Thus the process of separation is produced. Downstream of this point of separation, the fluid outside the surface separation has a high velocity and the fluid inside the surface of separation has a relatively low velocity. Because of the steep velocity gradient along the surface of separation, eddies are generated, which through viscous action are finally dissipated into heat. Since the location of the point of separation on a rounded body depends on the character of the flow in the boundary layer, roughness of the surface or turbulence in the approach flow has an effect on the location of the separation point. For angular-type bodies, however, the point of separation occurs at the sharp break in boundary configuration. For flow past a square rod and a disk and through a sharp-edged orifice, as shown in figure, flow separation occurs at the boundary discontinuity. Because separation is closely associated with the viscous resistance of the fluid, the Reynolds number (Re ) is an indicator of the onset of separation. For example, in flow past a circular cylinder, separation occurs for a Reynolds number (Re = VD/) greater than 50. For Reynolds numbers less than 50, the entire flow field is dominated by relatively large viscous resistance that inhibit the onset of eddy motion in the fluid.

The effect of Separation on Pressure Distribution: When separation occurs, the flow pattern and pressure distribution is changed. Pressure that prevails at the point of separation also prevails over the body within the zone of separation. For both cylinder and disk, as shown in figure, the pressure on the downstream half of the body is much less than the pressure on the upstream half; consequently, a net force called, drag, is imposed on the body in the downstream direction.

Cavitation occurs in liquid systems when the pressure at any point in the system is reduced to the vapour pressure of the liquid. Under such conditions, vapour bubbles form (boiling occurs) and then collapse (condense), thereby producing dynamic effects that can often lead to decreased efficiency and/or equipment failure. Consider water flow through the pipe restriction shown in figure. In figure (a), the physical configuration and the plots of piezometric head along the wall of the conduit for different flows are shown. In figure (b), the dimensionless plot of piezometric head along the wall is shown. Here, the reference point is taken at the centre of the pipe. For low and medium rates of flow, there is a relatively small drop in pressure at the constriction. Therefore, the pressure in the water remains well above the vapour pressure, and cavitation does not occur. If the rate of flow is high, however, the piezometric-head line actually drops below the pipe, thereby indicating a less-than-atmospheric pressure for the liquid in the constriction. The pressure can drop no lower than the vapour pressure of the liquid, because at this pressure the liquid boils. Such a condition is shown in figure (a), where vapour bubbles are forming at the restriction, growing in size, then collapsing as they move into a region of higher pressure as they are swept downstream with the flow. Experimental and theoretical studies reveal that very high intermittent pressures develop in the vicinity of the bubbles when they collapse. These pressures may exceed 800 MPa (115,000 psi). Therefore, if the bubbles collapse close to physical boundaries, such as pipe walls, pump impellers, ship propellers, valve casings, or dam-spillway floors, they can cause damage. Usually this damage occurs in the form of a fatigue failure brought by the action of millions of bubbles impacting against the surface material over a long period of time, thus producing pitting of the material in the vicinity of the zone of cavitation. Cavitation in an enclosed pipe or machine can often be detected by the characteristic sound generated. In large structures, it sounds like large rocks are being carried through the system and are hitting the sides of the conduit. If the flow is increased even more than indicated above, the minimum pressure is still restricted to the vapour pressure of the water, but the zone of vaporization increases, as shown in figure (b). For such a condition the entire vapour pocket may intermittently grow and collapse, producing serious vibration problems. Cavitation should be avoided or minimized by the proper design of equipment and structures and by their proper operation.


1. A pipe slopes upwards in the direction of fluid flow at an angle of 30 with the horizontal. What is the pressure gradient in the flow direction along the pipe in terms of the specific weight of the liquid if the liquid is decelerating (accelerating opposite to flow direction) at a rate of 0.3 g? (Ans: 0.20 ) 2. The closed tank shown in Fig. 1, which is full of liquid, is accelerated downward at 2/3 g and to the right at one g. Here L = 2 m, H = 3 m, and the liquid has a specific gravity of 1.3. Determine PC PA and PB PA. (Ans: PB PA = 12.75 kPa; PC PA = 38.26 kPa) 3. The velocity in the outlet pipe from the reservoir, shown in Fig. 2, is 6 m/s and h = 15 m. Because of the rounded entrance to the pipe, the flow is assumed to be irrotational. Under these conditions, what is the pressure at A? (Ans: 129.15 kPa) 4. Liquid flows with a free surface around a bend. The liquid is inviscid and incompressible, and flow is steady and irrotational. The velocity varies with the radius across the flow as V =

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

1 m/s, where r is in meters. Find the difference in depth of the liquid from the r (Ans: h = 0.045 m)

inside to the outside radius. The inside radius of the bend is 1 m and the outside radius is 3 m.

5. The pressure coefficient distribution on a cylinder in a cross flow is given by Cp = 1 4 Sin2 where is the angular displacement from the forward stagnation point. Assume that two pressure taps are located at 30 as shown in Fig. 3 and connected to a water manometer. The cylinder is immersed in air with a density of 1.2 kg/ m3 and a velocity of 50 m/s in the direction shown on the figure. What will be the deflection on the manometer, in centimeters? (Ans: h = 34.0 cm)

Fig. 3

6. A flow metering device, shown in Fig. 4, consists of a stagnation probe at station 2 and a static pressure tap at station 1. The cross-sectional area of the tube at station 2 is one-half that at section 1. Air with a density of 1.2 kg/m3 flows through the duct. A water manometer is connected between the stagnation probe and the pressure tap, and a deflection of 10 cm is measured. What is the velocity at station 2? (Ans: 80.87 m/s)

Fig. 4

7. A pitot tube used to measure air velocity is connected to a differential pressure gage. If the air temperature is 20 C at standard atmospheric pressure at sea level, and if the differential gage reads a pressure difference of 3 kPa, what is the air velocity? 8. A spherical probe, as shown in Fig. 5, is used for finding gas velocity by measuring the pressure difference between the upstream and downstream points A and B. The pressure coefficients at point A and B are 1.0 and -0.4. The pressure difference (Ans: 61.7 m/s) PA PB is 4 kPa, and the gas density is 1.5 kg/ m3. Calculate the gas velocity. (Ans: 70.7 m/s)

Fig. 5

9. A rugged instrument used frequently for monitoring gas velocity in smokestacks consists of two open tubes oriented to the flow direction, as shown in Fig. 6, and connected to a manometer. The pressure coefficient is 1.0 at A and -0.3 at B. Assume that water, at 20 C, is used in the manometer and that a

Fig. 6

0.8 cm deflection is noted The pressure and temperature of the stack gases are 101 kPa and 250 C. The gas constant of the stack gas is 200 J/kg K. Determine the velocity of the stack gases. (Ans: 11.17 m/s)

10. A pitot tube is used to measure the air speed of an airplane. The pitot tube is connected to a pressure-sensing device calibrated to indicate the correct air speed when the temperature is 17 C and the pressure is 101 Pa. The airplane flies at an altitude of 3000 m, where the pressure and temperature are 70 kPa and -6.3 C. The indicated airspeed is 60 m/s. What is the airspeed? (Ans: 69.3 m/s)